How did the demand for limestone affect your operations over the past year?
CMI is now producing three main products—quick lime (lumps and powder), dololime, and hydrated lime. We are supplying quick lime mainly to the steel industry in and outside of Oman and hydrated lime to water treatment plants. The main issue we are facing with limestone is increased costs. Costs are increasing because we are not allowed to start our quarries to arrange raw materials for our plant. To do so, we need to get permission from the Ministry of Energy and Minerals as well as two or three other ministries; unfortunately, there will be issues, and we will not be able to continue. That is why in the last five years we are importing raw materials from the neighboring countries at a higher cost. Our costs are going up, and we are becoming less competitive in the market.
What is your production capacity, and are you planning on increasing this?
CMI has three production units—two lime kilns with 100- and 200-ton capacity and a hydration plant with a 90-ton capacity. We mainly sell quick lime lumps to steel industry, while for quick lime powder our customers are mainly sugar factories and aerated concrete plants. We mainly sell hydrated lime to water treatment plants in Oman and export to outside Oman as well as some sugar factories. We are exporting to all the GCC and other countries by sending around 150 containers per month to Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Yemen and Sri Lanka. Two years ago, we were also exporting to India; however, as our costs went up, the competitors in the neighboring offered more competitive prices. In Oman, we are also supplying quick lime lumps to all steel factories. These are our main customers using quick lime and dololime lumps. We export quick lime powder to Qatar, Bahrain, and Yemen. We are in talks with Sudan, where the biggest sugar factory is using hydrated lime.